Saturday, September 27, 2008

AT: More trail magic and Shenendoah NP

Walking the Shenandoah National Park was a wonderful experience: Excellent weather, nice trail, beautiful scenery and lots of wild life. I really enjoyed it a lot - I actually start enjoying the AT more and more every day. But anyway - one of the big advantages of a National Park is that there are lots of camp grounds and shops to make resupply easier. And so I was hiking into Elkwallow gap without any snacks left planning on resupplying in the souvenir shop there - open every day from 9 to 7 according to me guide book. But when I come closer I see a sign with the new store hours: 9 - 5.30. And it is exactly 5.30 now! I start running, but too late. Everybody has already left - this is what I call German punctuality in the US! I am about to cry and I am hungry!!!!

Outside the shop on a picnic bench are three older guys - typical section hikers: Overweight and carrying too much stuff - which is actually good, because they really offer to give me some of their food - for free. They have too much and don't want to carry it. You cannot believe how happy I was. These three guys are car dealers from California and it will always elude me how you can live in California and then come hiking on the East Coast... And on top of all that even teach me a new legal expression: Res ipse loquitor. It was a good day in the end.

The next day I encounter several bears - they always run away when they see me, but it is a little bit frightening to see how fast these teddies can crawl up a tree. I start wondering why I should even bother to hang my food. As it start getting dark and I come close to my potential camp site, I see two more bears - well, it is probably not a good idea to camp too close. I hike on and finally find a good camp site but now the major problem starts: I have to hang my food. I had tried the last couple of days resulting in a lot of frustation. It had always taken me almost hours and the last time the damn rope got stuck on a truck branch so I had to cut it! I slept with the food in my tent that night....

So now I stand there with the rope in my hand looking at a perfect tree that is far too tall cursing my father who has never taught me how to throw a stone with a rope attached over a tree branch... When I hear a noise behind me I first think it is a bear laughing itself to death at my ridiculous sight, but it is a female hiker. I confess my problem to her and it turns out she is a horticulturist specialising in trees. And in that profession she is quite fluent in throwing stones with ropes attached over tree branches. She even shows me a trick how to do it (swing the stone)and with her first try the rope is hanging where it is supposed to be! I am impressed - she is, too and is so happy that she hugs me and tells me about her local preacher who always says that you should help people in need - in my case a hiker with a bear problem. I slept very good that night.

1 comment:

too obtuse said...

G.T. I just got back from my own travels, sat down and fully caught up on your blog. It makes me miss the AT! I feel that I'm right there with you at times for what you write feels all so familiar. Rocks, bear, moose, odd locals...You have great stuff still ahead! Enjoy.